It’s easy for politicians in Washington, D.C. to make promises to the people, especially when they don’t have to deal with real-world consequences.
Governors are directly accountable to the people. We are required to balance our budgets. If we fail to do that, our residents suffer the consequences, such as higher taxes or even government shutdowns.
We have to live with the consequences of our actions every day. Senators in Washington D.C. don’t have to deal with the harsh reality of keeping their promises. They just keep making promise after promise, even if it creates $20 trillion in debt.
Our Senators in Washington, D.C. want to expand Medicaid in Maine. They aren’t living in the real world. They did not have to deal with the disastrous effects of Maine’s Medicaid expansion in 2002.
Maine expanded Medicaid to able-bodied people in 2002, and then-Governor King left behind a structural gap of $1 billion. He didn’t have to deal with the ruinous effects of Medicaid expansion on our budget or the structural gap he created.
The structural gap then increased to $1.2 billion under Governor Baldacci, partly because of run-away spending on Medicaid expansion. It created a $750 million debt to our hospitals, and it blew massive holes in the state budget every year.
Senator Collins also wants to expand Medicaid to able-bodied people, but she has no executive experience. She never had to balance a state budget or deal with massive budget shortfalls every year.
But I promised to restore fiscal responsibility to the Maine state budget, and I did. I paid off the hospitals—without raising taxes. My administration managed our Medicaid program and got the budget under control. Medicaid spending is now nearly flat, and we don’t need gimmicks to fill budget holes.
In six years, I reduced the structural gap from $1.2 billion to just $165 million. But other states are now in a budget crisis because they expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare.
We had 15 years of experience with Medicaid expansion, and it wasn’t good. It didn’t reduce the number of uninsured Mainers, and it nearly broke the bank.
It’s easy for our Senators to grab national headlines by pushing Medicaid expansion. It’s another thing to deal with the financial disaster it would create in their home state. We estimate it would cost nearly a half-billion dollars from the General Fund over five years. It would raise your taxes, and it would raid money from agencies that now provide the services you deserve.
As we always say, “free” health care is very expensive to someone. With Medicaid expansion, that someone is you.